Toxic Waste? Here’s Why This Massachusetts Beach Smells So Bad
As if the city of Lynn needed another reason to add to its perceptual nightmare. I grew up in Lynn and literally every time I disclose where I'm from, the response is, "Oh, the city of sin?"
Besides rampant crime, Lynn also has another problem...a wicked smelly beach!
Don't get me wrong, Lynn is by no means a terrible city; however, the stretch of shoreline that runs from a section of Nahant into Lynn and just to the Swampscott border can smell really bad. It smells like rotten eggs, or toxic waste, or even poop.
I don't know why the smell is so unique to that section of beach, but I do know the reason why it smells so bad.
Brown algae, or Pilayella littoralis. This non-toxic brown algae washes ashore and lands on rocks and the sand, drys, and smells. As the plant material decays on the beach and in the sand it produces an odor. The odor is a sulfide containing gas. There are no documented detrimental health effects from the beach-generated odors.
The species has been in Nahant Bay since at least 1902, its ultimate origin is not known. This type of brown seaweed is unique to our area. No one, including scientists, is entirely sure why Pilayella littoralis occurs in such large quantities or why it is mostly limited to Nahant Bay and Broad Sound. -mass.gov
For decades now there have been studies to figure out a way to prevent the stench. You can't kill the algae. In 2008, crews would literally go and scoop up any algae that washed ashore every day, according to boston.com.
If you have ever been to these beaches, you know what I'm talking about, the smell is terrible. Just driving along Lynn Shore Drive, you gotta keep your windows up.
I’ve lived in Lynn all my life and currently live one street from the ocean, so I’m pretty familiar with it. The smell is 9 times of out 10 from the algae that grows here, this specific one only grows here and one other place in the world. Basically it washes ashore, usually on rocks, and bakes in the sun and causes the smell.
Nobody has ever been able to figure out how to get rid of it, even people at Harvard couldn’t figure out what to do about it. The only “solution” is to clean it up before it bakes, which can be tough because of the sheer amount. -mrileyjr via reddit
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